Barca have been trailing Jose Mourinho’s team for most of the season despite winning 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in December when the Spanish and European champions recovered from an early Karim Benzema goal to win 3-1 and continue their strong recent record against the arch-enemy.
Nothing less than victory will suffice for Barcelona if they are to retain their crown and the bookmakers have them as strong favourites to oblige in this encounter, with odds of 4/6 (Coral free bets) available that the Catalan club claim all three points.
Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat in the Stamford Bridge rain wasn’t the ideal preparation for this encounter although Pep Guardiola will be satisfied that his team created enough chances away from home to ensure they go through next week.
Barca have been largely untouchable at the Camp Nou this term and that game against Chelsea was the first out of six where Lionel Messi failed to find the net. However, the last time he failed to score in a Spanish league match was 11 February in Osasuna which is quite a staggering record.
Messi is available at 3/1 (Paddy Power bookmaker) to score the first goal of this particular match and is a certain starter, with the manager unlikely to make many changes with perhaps the exception of Pedro and Gerard Pique getting a run-out.
As for Real Madrid, they too were midweek losers and there haven’t been too many times you can say that in recent seasons. That last minute winner from Mario Gomez on Tuesday means there is work ahead at the Bernabeu next week although this match represents the chance to exorcise some demons following that 5-0 humiliation in the same fixture last term.
Mourinho promised after that match that no team of his would ever lose by that margin again and you can get an eye-catching 17/4 (Boylesports free bet) that Real effectively seal the title by somehow winning that match at the Nou Camp.
Madrid are the division’s top scorers after plundering an amazing 107 goals in 33 games and Cristiano Ronaldo has managed over 40 of those, with the former Manchester United man available at 11/2 to score the first goal of this particular game.
With Real needing a draw to keep Barcelona at arm’s length, it might be a cagey encounter and perhaps we might even witness a bore draw at 16/1, although the smarter money could be 1-1 at 15/2.